Land of the Rising Yen
In Thai culture, society, call it what you want, jai rorn (hot tempered) and losing face are unwanted partners that raise their ugly heads only in the most extreme situations or for those that the Thai way of life and effectively Buddhism has been unable to calm their inner souls. The western practice of punch first, question later and apologise if needs fit, is a trait that probably rates as top of the undesirable ways of the farang in the minds of the Thai people.
In my early Land of Smile years I was jai rorn on many an occasion, the heat and humidity being my main annoyance and the inability of the Thai’s to understand my simple English tongue being another major cause. Over the years the Thai way of life has calmed my temper and I now consider myself more jai yen (cool tempered) than jai rorn.
Yesterday proved to be an exception. We’d left our village home and arrived in Udon Thani for the last three days of our holiday, I’d slept for the most part of the one hour journey, maybe I’d woken in a bad mood, that’s a very rare occurrence for me. While Wonderful Wi parked the car I followed the Napalais hotel porter and our luggage to the hotel reception desk.
There were three receptionists waiting, two ladies and one man, their look was one of boredom and inactivity in an industry that has been hard hit by the lack of foreigners now visiting Thailand. I gave it my plain English tongue…” I would like to book a room for three nights please,”…the response was one of blank expressions, my heckles rose slightly, why I don’t know.
I was smoking 50 fags a day and my language tone may have been affected by this, a little heavy on the nasal and with my slight cockney twang I thought it better to detox my spiel a touch…..Nice and slow..” I would like to book a room for three nights please,”…..If a cloud of confusion had formed over them from my opening shot then it was now raining with a heavy downpour. Thunder and lightning with heavy storms was the weather now residing inside my head.
Calm down and try again, “Can any you speak English,”…pidgin tongue is sometimes best….” I speak English,” came the reply from one of the ladies. I slowly repeated my request and with an angelic charm she once more responded.
” When you arrive hotel ? “…I looked over to my suitcase and two holdalls and thought Thailand don’t do this to me, when do you think I bloody arrived. Chai yen, chai yen, I said nothing but on the outside I knew my whole demeanor spoke a very loud and western chai rorn.
Udon Thani…Friday afternoon….The schoolchildren pour out of the schools and board the waiting minibuses and for the poorer and those with more frugal parents, songtheaws. Another week of lessons finished and for the lucky few their dreams of one day nursing sick people or animals and in some cases both have moved a little nearer.
For the rest at best a career in 7-11 or Tesco Lotus waits. In the Western world a misspent youth erodes the career path of many youngsters and Thailand the misspent baht on non native English speaking teachers lays down a path of uphill ascent. ” Hello sexy man “ is for some the business language of the future, not Mandarin.
The school exodus joins the growing traffic congestion as the city workers head home and many others start their weekend at the Chareonsri Shopping Complex bargian hunting, dining and for the next generation of Pattaya ” Dancing Queens “ a chance of posing to closing in the boutiques and eateries.
Pizza’s selling at a round 200 baht show the wealth of difference between Udon’s major city and it’s countless villages. Red may be the political colour of Udon Thani Province but a common villager would find themselves knee deep in kwai dung and even deeper in the red shopping at some of the prices on display. Perhaps Thailand’s renown Bangkok and the rest two tier system, has now added a cheap mix base to the Land of Smiles cake.
For once shopaholic Wilai left the Chareonsri Complex with exactly what she walked in with, handbag, radiant smile and a red faced farang. I left 5500 baht light of pocket with my close vision restored after the purchace of a pair of sexy specs reading glasses and believe me the next generation of ” Dancing Queens ” looked even sweeter on my way out. Mai phen rai krap.
Wonderful Wi is the one for me, jai rorn and jai yen she has stood by me through it all. For me 20/20 vision is a thing of the past but Thailand 2552 has furthered my education of life. Looking at roses through thick lensed glasses will in the future be better for me than the Western world’s rose tinted vision of life. Good luck and God bless from Beyond The Mango Juice and thank you Thailand but I’ve gotta spread my wings and fly.
Martyn sounds like a suitable post script to a very happy holiday.
I am sure you jai rorn may well rise as fumbling for your passport and reading glasses you are asked the purpose of your visit as you arrive jet lagged at Heathrow Immigration by a smiling brown skinned person or worse sill a large white rabbit!
It’s that mood that creeps up unannounced when unconsciously your mind is telling you… “I don’t want to leave… I don’t want to leave…” But you did well to keep it in check, even if your face was telling a different story, while diminishing in Thai eyes at the same time 😉
“Hello sexy man” might be one effective way of communicating in the future, but going by recent reports in the Thai bloggosphere they’ll be having to say it twice as often to earn the same money. Apparently that particular industry is in dire straits.
Have a good trip back, and when you get to the UK, don’t let the bastards grind you down.
This has GOT to be my favourite post of all. Whooh.
‘If a cloud of confusion had formed over them from my opening shot then it was now raining with a heavy downpour. Thunder and lightning with heavy storms was the weather now residing inside my head.’
How many of us have been in that very same spot over the years? And for a lot of us, it has not been for the lack of trying. And, I’m sure the Thais are of the same opinion.
And as for your parting paragraph, my hat goes off to not only your writing, but to the Wonderful Wi.
When you land and recover, I’d love to understand what you mean by, ‘Looking at roses through thick lensed glasses will in the future be better for me than the Western world’s rose tinted vision of life.’
It sounds like it could be a post of its own.
Please have a safe trip back…
Thanks for your comments and I’m now at Suvarnabhumi airport. Half six in the morning and I’ve got a large JD and coke, will reply to you all on Tuesday. Cheers.
‘Looking at roses through thick lensed glasses will in the future be better for me than the Western world’s rose tinted vision of life.’…
Nice one. Don’t know what you had in mind, but there’s three ways of looking at things in life, I reckon. Seeing a rose how exactly how it is, blemishes ‘n all? Too depressing sometimes. Looking at a rose and seeing a lily? Pretence, you can keep it. Not looking too hard, just getting a general impression, not taking it too seriously? That’ll do for me. Otherwise you can’t see the rose bush for the petals. Anyway isn’t the best thing about a rose, the scent?…
Pete, frogblogger’s last blog post..Chiang Mai Thailand – foreign residents summoned to police station
This is a lovely, poetic entry. Really good to read.
I’m sorry – I’m not always the sharpest knife in the drawer – but are you leaving Thailand?
Emm’s last blog post..Where I work: Lunch at Joe’s
I think I know what Martyn means by the thick glasses. Because I felt the same way on my departure. it’s one thing to look at life through rose tinted glasses ignoring the facts in front of you but I’ll take Thailand where I can look at roses through thick glasses….where I know whats going on and although at times it’s hard to see through the thick glasses there is no place I would rather be.
I could be wrong on that but Martyn will let us all know in due time.
Have a safe trip back Martyn!
Talen’s last blog post..The New Walking Street Sign
Talen – You got it about bang on. I’d much rather accept I’m getting old and view Wi’s roses in the garden through my glasses than live in the money rich, credit hungry, win at all costs western world. A simple life in a Thai village will do for me.
Mike – Due to my large cigarette import habits in the past ( 10,000 a trip )I always get stopped by UK customs, something like 12 out the last 15 trips. Sailed straight through this time although I gave the smuggling up 15 trips back.
Pete – I will remain positive but thanks for the advice. The oldest industry in the World will bounce back I’m sure. For roses see Talen.
Catherine – Thanks for your kind comment. The lack of English skills does still frustrate me from time to time but probably not half as much as my lousy Thai does to them. For roses see Talen comment.
Emm – Thanks for your read and comment. I have been to Thailand on a 3 week holiday and return again in September. Work in England forces my return.
Martyn, ref roses, the pretence thing in the West v. the take life as it comes approach was exactly what I was getting at… in my usual obscure way 😉 I just added in a third option 🙂
Just think, if you give up smoking, that’s got to be the price of an extra month in Thailand each year!
Pete, frogblogger’s last blog post..This Is Thailand; a stranger side to Chiang Mai and the north, in photos
Pete I know you look on Thailand with a similar Roses view to me. Obscure no, very well put and as for the smoking it would help money wise but it’s time off work that limits me.
Time to leave already? That went quick!! Have a good trip back. Hope the flight without smokes isn’t too painful!
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Oh! I thought you were permanently based in Thailand. It must be heartbreaking for you to have to leave then.
Emm’s last blog post..Day Out: Thames Barrier, London
Emm I have left Thailand so many times before that now it’s second nature to spread my wings and fly. For some reason though I am really missing it this time.